The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nolan Needs To Fix This Team - Now, If He Wants His Job

As I have mentioned in earlier weeks, with expectations for the team raised this year and 49er ownership undoubtably anxious to see some return on the last 3 years investment, the focus is starting to shift from the talent level on the field to the guidance from the sideline. Being the bye-week, it is a good time for reflection on the status of the team. While the pressure is mounting on first year play-caller Jim Hostler to right the ship offensively,the man who replaced the great Norv Turner at offensive coordinator, at some point the finger pointing has to reach the top of the food chain.

Mike Nolan is going to start feeling his chair become very warm, very soon if there isn't quick improvement to this club when they have the ball. His fresh approach was a welcome change after the Dennis Erickson disaster of 2003 and 2004 when a division champion was reduced to a 2-14 laughing stock. Having said that, as progress markers came and passed and the offense continued to decompose, despite the record improving each year, there has always been an excuse to get him off the hook. In 2005 it was rookie QB Alex Smith's fault the offense finished last in the league. In 2006 everyone was so impressed with Frank Gore, they didn't realize the all-powerful Turner only got the 49ers to 26th in total offense. Now it's all Hostler's fault -- he calls the plays, he runs the offense, the blames falls on him. Ultimately, however, Nolan is the one in charge, the one who should be coming up with answers. But he "doesn't know what the issues are on offense," sounding as if he thinks it's not his job. He's seems content to be one game off the lead in a subpar division with an offense that is totally incompetent. The fact that the goal against the Ravens was to get to 10 points and hang on, tells me he is uncapable of directing anything offensively. Where this team would be with Norv Turner still here would be interesting to see.

Where are they instead? Last in points per game with 12.6; they're last in yards per game with 203; they're last in third down efficiency at 24 percent (a woeful 16 out of 66); finally, the Niners are last in passing at 143 yards per game. At this point last year, they were 2-3 after 5 games. Now: 2-3 after 5 games. Not worse but not better. (FYI: My 6-10 or 7-9 prediction is looking bang-on for those of you out there who had your heads in the clouds with thoughts of a 10-12 win season. Nice thought, but not happening)

Nolan needs to step in and make changes before it's too late. Try Kwame Harris to help fix the O-line. To bolster a tepid passing game, get wide receiver Ashley Lelie more involved. Try more aggressive playcalling to keep defenses honest and give Frank Gore a chance. If the only thing working WAS the running game and now defenses can key on that with 7 or 8 in the box, because there is certainly no fear of Alex Smith beating them with his arm. Reduce Hostler back to a Quarterbacks coach if that's what needs to be done; just don't ride him down the drain.

Nolan needs to stop hiding behind his unflappable image, stop leaving his team's problems on someone else's shoulders and take charge. Stop worrying about what tie goes with what sport jacket and chalk some x's and o's. Defense is his specialty, and it is nice to be competitive after cellar dwelling the last few years, but it's only one part of the game. If Nolan can't find a way to make the offense respectable, he should be held accountable at the end of the season. Maybe coordinating the defensive side of the ball is all he can handle.

My predictions: Hostler gets fired by midseason and Nolan either takes over his duties or brings in someone else, (who would be really talented if they're on the street right now, right?). Next, unless there is a remarkable turnaround by Alex Smith when he returns, Nolan, or his replacement go QB in the draft again and start over. With lots of good arms in next year's draft, if they are thinking Nolan and Smith for that matter aren't the guys, the time is soon to make a change, as the clock is ticking to keep that talented young defense together and actually add a fully functioning NFL caliber offense to it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with your assessment of the situation with the Niners. Nolan is at a point that I felt this would either be a break out season for the club or one where York has to decide to start over. This club is in need of an offense that produces.

Defense may win some Super Bowls, but it is a strong defense with a strong offense that is needed as you stated, before the defense falls apart by age or by salary cap.

Finally, with the Steve Young's comments I think they ring true. Nolan is captive to his philosophy of the offense not losing a game so the defense can win it. Not a way to build a winner and one that makes paying fans happy. Under Young's view, Smith has been used to not lose a game. Thus we may not know his potential is, but by next year it is too late. Time to draft a second QB that will push Smith or allow Smith to be a back up. Should be an interesting off season as I really don't have much hope right now.

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